November 29, 2021

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Lesson of the Day: ‘2 Days, 10 Dogs, 150 Miles in the Wilderness: This Is the Iditarod for Teens’

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Option 1: Share your experiences.

Choose one or more of the following writing prompts:

  • When have you faced a difficult journey or challenge, physical or mental? Write about the experience: What made it challenging? What obstacles did you need to overcome? Did you ever feel like giving up? How did you feel afterward? Would you say you were successful? What lessons about yourself, or the world, did you learn from your experiences?

  • Anna Coke said of competing in the junior race: “Nothing in the entire world can beat being out alone with your dogs, with your team. It brings you a lot of peace. And they push you to become a better person through that. They’re relying on you and you’re relying on them. It’s a really, really beautiful picture of teamwork and endurance and hard work.” How does her statement resonate with your experiences? Does anything both give you peace and push you to be a better person? What teaches you and tests your skills, your teamwork and your perseverance?

  • What does the story of these 10 teenagers navigating and enduring a grueling and often dangerous race say about what young people can do, with the right training and preparation? Does reading the article inspire you to push and challenge yourself more? Would you ever want to compete in a difficult endurance contest like the Iditarod, or, say, a triathlon or a marathon? The article says that for some participants in the Junior Iditarod, the event would be the first time they spent a night away from their parents. Do you think young people need to have more opportunities to develop and test their independence and resourcefulness?

  • If you are inspired, set a new goal or challenge for yourself. It can be physical, intellectual or social, but reaching it should both push you and make a difference in your life. So think creatively and big! Keep in mind the example of Anna, who at 10 said to herself, “I’m going to pray every night that I would become a musher.” What is something you have always dreamed of or wanted to do? What kind of preparation will be required? What kinds of obstacles do you anticipate? How can you enlist others to help you on your journey? What lessons from the journey of teenagers like Anna, Morgan Martens and Ellen Redington can be applied to reaching your goal?

Option 2: Learn about how climate change is affecting the Iditarod race and other sports.

In the 2019 article “The Mush in the Iditarod May Soon Be Melted Snow,” John Branch wrote that climate change was forcing cancellations of, and changes in, sled dog races in Alaska and Canada, including the most famous of them all:

What used to be a given in Alaska — enough snow and ice to run the Iditarod and a slew of other sled dog races without much worry — is now fraught with perennial uncertainty.

The cosmic question is how long races like the Iditarod in places like Alaska can keep finding long, continuous threads of snow and ice in a region warming more quickly than most places on the planet.

Several races were altered, shortened or canceled this season. Every year, including this one, adjustments are made to counter problems attributed to warming. Twice in the past five years, the Iditarod moved the start to Fairbanks, 350 miles north.

People now wonder aloud whether the Iditarod will have to climb the latitudinal ladder permanently to escape, or even if its long-term future is in peril.

“In the grand scheme, it’s a very big deal,” said Jeff King, who this year is competing in his 29th Iditarod, beginning Sunday, and has won four times. “What we don’t know is how much, and how fast, climate change will result in those things.”

Are you surprised to learn that climate change is affecting sports events like the Iditarod? Global warming is not only melting the snow and ice necessary for dog sled runs, but it is also affecting sporting events across the globe, from tennis and soccer to speedskating and skiing.

Research one aspect of the effects of climate change on sports: What are the short- and long-term effects? How are sports leagues adapting to these environmental changes? What can be done to mitigate the damages?

To begin, you might research a sport that interests you, or read any of these articles:

After your research, consider how you might share what you learned: How can you best explain the information to others? You might create a poster, an infographic or a public service announcement, like this one, using images, video, text, statistics and music.

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